Archive for MLB

Wilton Wilts Comeback Hopes.

Posted in Astros rivals, Houston Astros with tags , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2011 by Astropolithecus

You know, for a guy that is constantly praised for his great stuff and his former consistently great performance by the Astros radio crew, I myself am beginning to wonder. He’s got excellent stuff sometimes, and I like him, but good God, I’ve rarely seen a reliever prop open a door like he did tonight. When your own error is the icing on a three run gimme cake for the Cubs, that is a terrible outing. Still, I say we give “Lopey” a few more starts to work out of it before we start the fan panic.  After all, Lyon is throwing much better now that his hideous opening day is more in the  rearview mirror.

Here is Zambrano’s take on the subject:

Anger-managed.

Thanks Z, I couldn’t agree more. Derrek Lee sends his regards.

So Astros fans, we are an awful 3-9 to begin this season, and the worst part is I doubt very many of us are surprised. It’s embarrassing, especially with Berkman and Oswalt currently succeeding elsewhere, and even Pirates fans eyeing us with pity.

I will say this, though. And I mean it with that squirrelly instinct that rises up in me from time to time (an instinct I often laugh off and doubt but usually ends up being right): the Astros have looked pretty good in their nine losses. Sure, certain parts of the squad have played horrendously, and at inopportune moments, and our bullpen worries me more than it has in a long time, but we are in all of these games.

Our two comebacks against the Cubs fell short, but there we were, actually battling and playing with spirit. The team even seems confident.  I have a feeling that if a few breaks tip our way, we may start playing more consistently, we may get hot, and float right around .500 until the all-star break, which for Houston would be solid progress.

The Padres, hitting poorly, stroll into town tomorrow night. They always seem to beat the pants off of us, but if we can take three of four, we might see a young and dismissed squad hit a hot streak.

We’re a few bad innings from being 6-6, and that, believe it or avoid it, is good news.

Astropolithecus

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It’s Official Astros Fans: Never Gonna Happen 2010

Posted in Astros rivals, Houston Astros with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2010 by Astropolithecus

Folks,

Though our fair broadcasters on both radio and television might gloss over  a very ugly season by not saying anything very negative or critical, I want to make an announcement. Houston is done as of today, June 19th. This is from an eternal Astros optimist.

We are a crap team this year, and for the first time since I can remember I’m questioning the effort team wide, which bothers me deeply. Oswalt wants to leave, and rightly so.

I say blow it up and start all over.  Youth movement in Houston helmed by new hitting coach Bagwell is about the best we can hope for in the next two years.   Buckle down, ladies and gentlemen, judging by the listless nature of this mediocre squad, your fandom will be tested Pittsburgh Pirates style until the blessed day in early October when this train wreck(Wooo!Wooo! my ass) is over.

I knew the playoffs would be a miracle, but I never imagined what I’ve been watching these last 3 months. Only up from here, I hope.

Onward and Upward,

Berkmaniac

Astros Sweep Cardinals!

Posted in Houston Astros with tags , , , , , , , on July 23, 2009 by Cabeza De Vaca
Okay, so, I pretty much use this blog as a place to voice my frustration with the club.  My love for the Astros comes accross mostly as love-hate, with the latter half of that relationship predominating.  Mostly, though, I’ve been frustrated with the way this team has been run.  My rants on player performance are normally limited to the context of how it should affect Ed Wade’s decision-making and Drayton’s long-term strategy.

Today, though, I’m just freakin’ excited that the Astros swept the Cardinals.  I honestly did not expect to have this much fun at any time this season.  My only concern comes when I think about how much this series sweep helped the Cubs.  I hate the Cubs.  I like the Cardinals.  I like LaRussa, Pujols, and the remaining Duncan.  I like the moustaches. I like the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriters, and I like knowledgeable baseball fans. If any team other than Houston has to win the NL Central, I want it to be the Cards.  As teams who have finished 1-2 in the standings so often in recent years, I hope they can continue to be each other’s well-respected adversary.

Still, there was something so satisfying about sweeping a first place St. Louis team.   Let me say it again: the Astros swept the Cardinals!!  It helped that the club’s three best starters lined up for the three game series, but I still can’t believe it.  The team couldn’t believe it either.  They were jumping around like they just made it to the World Series.  You take the excitement wherever you can get it, and to lots of us who have been underwhelmed so far this year, there was a playoff atmosphere to this series.

As an Astros fan, I have been conditioned to believe that come-from-behind victories simply do not go in our favor.  I have been conditioned to expect opposing teams to get out of late-inning, bases loaded, no-out jams.  Prior to one of the Geoff Blum walk-off singles against the Cubs, it had been months since the team had won a game it trailed after the sixth inning.  To come back in the bottom of the ninth against a closer who has looked fantastic this year is remarkable.  Miguel Tejada has been a spark plug that ignites this team’s confidence and enthusiasm night after night.

Keppinger gives Miggy the rare double-spotlight.

Keppinger gives Miggy the rare double-spotlight.

In all honesty, I still think this team’s pitching is too weak, and I’m worried that the injury bug will continue to strike the… uh… less-than-youthful members of the team.  But for now, who cares? While I’m not jumping aboard the bandwagon just yet, at times like these, even a website called “Disastros” can be downright gleeful.

One Game Under

Posted in Houston Astros with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2009 by Cabeza De Vaca

Here we are again. One game from returning to .500. Not since being 1-1 on April 7th, have the Astros been winners, err… I mean, non-losers. Actually, with an extra game to be finished up, the Stros have a chance to be winners tonight for the first time all season. First, the Astros and Nationals will pick up where they left off, albeit 1,500 miles southwest. With an extra-inning win to start the night off, the Astros can either go on to be winners, or quickly follow a step forward with another step back.

During Spring training, my brother and I talked about how we thought the season would play out. I predicted that it would look pretty ugly throughout, but that somehow the old never-say-die attitude would land the team at (an over-performing) 80-82 – with scattered winning streaks to justify management’s claims that we’re still in it. My brother predicted that through the course of the season, the Stros would have great runs to get them to 2 games below .500, slipping back down each time. It appears he was one game off. Here we are again with a third chance in a week. Each time they approach the plateau, they roll back down like a car in neutral that couldn’t build up quite enough momentum along the way.

Who’s gonna stumble this time? In San Francisco, the offense was characteristically baffled by their first view of a rookie, Ryan Sadowski (who?), and against Pittsburgh, the defense faltered. Odds are, this time it’s the pitching. Lately you have no idea what’s gonna happen with Russ Ortiz, so it’s anyone’s guess. Hopefully, though, Lance and Hunter finally teach the rest of the boys that in Texas we take two steps forward before taking another step back.

Welcome, Jeff Keppinger!

Posted in Houston Astros with tags , , , , , , on April 8, 2009 by Cabeza De Vaca

Last year, it was the new guy, Miguel Tejada, providing the walk-off heroics. This year another new guy came through for the victory. This time, it was the new guy’s first at-bat as an Astro. I heard that Keppinger is a blue-collar player who tries hard, hustles, and plays the game the way Astros fans have come to expect. Well, the swing sure wasn’t pretty, the broken bat was interesting, and the follow through looked like there were banana peels all over the batter’s box, but Keppinger got bat on ball. That’s the determination we need with a runner on third with one out.

Stumbling around has never been so pretty.

Stumbling around has never been so pretty.

The Astros missed a golden opportunity in the 9th inning, with runners on first and second, no outs. Bourn decided to pull a bunt back and swing away. Apparently Cooper tells his players to use this trick if the infield is playing where it would be almost impossible to make the bunt work. That advice is obviously, however, for pitchers who don’t have Bourn’s speed and athletic ability. Shouldn’t Bourn be the best on the team at laying down a bunt? The worst part about that decision is that it shows that Michael Bourn still doesn’t have a solid understanding of the game. He has admitted he didn’t like baseball or watch it at all growing up, and I can’t help but feel that he’s still playing catch up.

Oh well, luckily, that didn’t make a difference in the win column. Hats off to Wandy for looking like a solid number 2 starter. So far, two games, two quality starts. Let’s cross our fingers and hope we see plenty more, because this offense could be pretty fun to watch. Miggy is looking like our spark plug again. In game one, he had three lead-off singles. Last night he had only one hit, but again it seemed like he was involved in some way with everything the team got going. Carlos Lee will start hitting at some point, and I’m hoping that Cooper starts to fill out a line-up card that makes sense.

The Astros are .500. With this team, it’s anyone’s guess whether they’ll see this winning percentage much farther out into the season. Oh well, for now, it’s good enough to focus on how good it feels to beat the Cubs. Go Stros!

Astros Opening Day Line-up?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2009 by Cabeza De Vaca

Was Friday’s victory over the Phillies a glimpse into what we’ll see come opening day? Cooper fielded this starting line-up:

1. Kaz Matsui (S)
2. Ivan Rodriguez (R)
3. Lance Berkman (S)
4. Carlos Lee (R)
5. Miguel Tejada (R)
6. Hunter Pence (R)
7. Geoff Blum (S)
8. Michael Bourn (L)

Starting Pitcher: Roy Oswalt

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of this batting order, so I hope it’s not set in stone. In particular, I’d really like to see Hunter Pence batting 2nd. He’s had trouble with breaking pitches, and hitting in front of Berkman should increase the amount of fastballs he gets, particularly if a speedy Matsui or Bourn is aboard. Plus, Pence is faster on the basepaths than Pudge.

The top of the order isn’t all about speed, though, it’s about on-base percentage.  I know, Pence doesn’t often see ball four, but Pudge is known for never taking walks. In his career, Pudge has struck out three times as often as he has walked. In 2007, Pudge had only a .294 OBP, walking only nine times the whole season. Last year he picked up the pace, with twenty-three bases on balls. Pudge has a .339 career OBP, mostly from his career .301 batting avg. Pence’s career on-base? .336! 

A young guy and an old guy with virtually identical on-base percentages. One on the rise, the other declining. Both righties. One with above average speed, the other with above average speed… for a catcher.

Coop, you’ve gotta bat Pence 2nd and Pudge 6th.

Also, I know this is super-trendy and all, but I’d like to see Bourn batting 9th, with the pitcher in the 8 hole. What’s the point of having Bourn’s speed in front of the pitcher’s spot? A pitcher should be capable of laying a decent enough bunt down for Blum to advance.  I’d much rather take advantage of Michael Bourn’s occasional hit or walk after the pitcher made the final out in the previous inning. It’s like keeping him as the lead-off man, but without having to see him bat so many times. Also, Matsui’s career numbers are much better in the 2nd spot in the order. So, maybe that could be a collateral benefit.

All I ask is for Cooper to put together a batting order that makes sense from day one and stick to it.  No tinkering day to day, with Tejada batting second sometimes, and Bourn leading off every once in a while.  Ol’ Scrap Iron Phil drove us nuts with that; we don’t need more of it.  This line up has people that can hit, and I just hope we fans get to see it have a chance to come together the way it should, even if it struggles at first.

Wandy!

Posted in Houston Astros with tags , , , , on March 24, 2009 by Cabeza De Vaca

Man, for some reason, a good outing from Wandy gets me so pumped! Yesterday, Wandy led the Astros to their fifth consecutive win. He allowed two hits, two walks, and struck out two in four scoreless innings.

A healthy four innings out of Wandy is enough to make any Astros fan breathe a tremendous sigh of relief… But four scoreless innings? Wandy, you’ve got me light headed.

I hope this isn’t the highlight of Wandy’s year, because he’s teased us before. I tend to think that if he can stay healthy, we’ll see 12 wins and a 3.94 ERA out of the Magic Wand, making for a great pairing with the Wizard.

Obviously, I realize I shouldn’t get too worked up about Spring wins or losses. Everyone who says that it’s all about individual results in Spring Training is correct. However, typically, good individual performances go hand in hand with wins. Last year, it seemed like however Miggy went, the Stros went. Yesterday, big individual performances from Blum and Wandy led to Houston scoring eight runs while shutting out the other side.

It’s fun to see the bats start to wake up. Pudge hit a long ball to left field that sure would look good from the Crawford Boxes. Bourn (.213), Blum (.178), and Matsui (.111) all had hits yesterday. They had to stumble onto some hits sooner or later. Baseball is all about the law of averages, and the Astros players knew it when they lost 15 consecutive games (not counting ties). They all just saw the losing spell as proof that a winning one would come. It appears they were right, now let’s just hope they keep it going into the games that count.